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A bit of Hollywood humor 

Updated Jan 23, 2022

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This week's question

I recently saw the horror, "Better Watch Out," which I kind of liked but, since I'm writing a horror now, did you notice why I didn't completely like it?


This week's Answer: 

Seasonally out of Season

I saw Better Watch Out, Bill, and I may know what you're talking about in terms of the reason why you may not have completely liked it.

The premise of an 12-year old being so infatuated with his babysitter that he tries to scare her by setting up a phony house break-in and make her fall in love with him when he comes to her rescue is clever, but the story is never fully mined. The title and the setting is during the Christmas holiday, but it has little to do with Christmas per se. Yes, there are carolers and holiday music is played, but, if you look closer, the story could happen at any time of the year, in any season, and there's nothing in it that requires it to be set during Christmas time (the title notwithstanding).

The main problem with the script is that the dramatic curve doesn't rise high enough and most of the action stays at one level. The main reason for this is that, once the psychopath kid gets the babysitter under his control, the story pretty much stays the same: we watch him reveal more and more of his darkness, executing anybody in his way. But that's it: there's nobody in his way. The babysitter has her rebellious moments, but she never really gets a chance to fight back, to take the story to a new level of tension and suspense. It never gets there. 

The worst choice the authors made was, when the babysitter gets away and outside, the evil tween (good name for a horror movie: "Evil Tween!")  knocks her out with a brick, thereby bringing her and the story back to where she was before: tied up in a chair. And the guy friends who arrive to see her are lamebrains and offer no real resistance to the kid who likes to swing bats and shoot guns (and hang people and bash them with paint cans). The weakest set piece was him out on the roof, trying to not be seen by his returning parents. And the protagonist, instead of showing her cunning and skill and fortitude to overcome this tween of evil (actually, that could be a better title) who belongs in a rubber room or possibly in death's row (take your pick), lives only because the killer kid (another good title!) didn't cut deep enough and she somehow used duct tape to stop the flow of blood. She did show him a good third finger from the ambulance, but that's the extent of her resistance!? 

Imagine an alternative storyline: It's established early in the script that the babysitter has some special skill (sports, something her father taught her, some ability she learned at some summer club or an uncle taught her on his farm, etc.) and she uses that skill and other innate abilities to not only stay alive but to also outwit and overcome the hampster-killer tween. (Hampter Killer Tween! That's it!)

The moral of this story:  Just because you've babysat somebody many times before, it still doesn't mean that he won't suddenly become a psychopath and start killing everybody in sight. 

And keep tying you to a chair.

Douglas Herman

Script Advisor


















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